As usually happens with best laid plans, I was not able to get everything accomplished today that I had planned on. Sometimes I think that my attitude towards what I do or do not get done is much more important that what is actually achieved. There is nothing wrong with cutting myself some slack on days when there is something more pressing, even if that something is just spending time playing with my kids. That is not laziness or lack of motivation, it is keeping my priorities in order. If there is something that absolutely needs to be done on a given day that I haven't been able to get to, I can do it in the evening after everyone is in bed. I only get so much time to enjoy my children at these ages, but I will still be cooking ten years from now.
This morning I made a double batch of giant breakfast cookies. (You can find the original recipe here, at Heavenly Homemakers. This is an amazing site filled with wonderful recipes, and Laura's encouraging and Godly words.) We all just love these breakfast cookies. The children don't even realize that they are good for them. But they would never turn down cookies for breakfast! I packed up one batch (15 cookies) for the freezer and left the other out for breakfast tomorrow. They are a wonderful breakfast on Sunday mornings when we are hurrying to get to church, especially because they could even be eaten in the car if needed.
In the afternoon, I made a double batch of pizza pockets that went straight to the freezer. They are great to have on hand for a quick lunch. I just toss them in the oven straight from the freezer until warm, usually about 10-15 minutes. I know I have seen lots of recipes for these lately, but here is the recipe I use.
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast (or 1 pkg.)
1 c. warm water
1/2 t. sea salt
2 t. olive oil
1 t. oregano
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1-2 c. white flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, olive oil, oregano, and 2 1/2 c. flour. Mix until a soft dough is formed. Add remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. Knead for 2 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise for at least one hour. Punch dough down. Roll dough into ten even balls. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste
18 oz. water (just fill the tomato paste cans with water)
2 T. olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 T. Italian seasoning
2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. crushed red chili pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients together until well combined. If sauce is still too thick for your tastes you can add more water until it is the desired consistency. (Note: I've noticed that it's better to have a thicker sauce when making these because it is less like to leak out while baking.)
Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface
Roll dough into a circle about 8" across. Do not roll it too thin or the fillings will fall out.
Place desired fillings on one half of the dough. Be sure to leave room at the edges for sealing.
(Our pizza pockets this time have sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Italian sausage.)
Fold over dough to cover fillings and pinch shut with fingers. Wipe off any sauce that may spill out. Use a fork to seal the pockets one more time.
Place pizza pockets on an ungreased cookie sheet. (You can sprinkle with cornmeal if desired.) I like to place some butter on top and sprinkle with a mixture of Parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic salt before baking. It gives the dough a taste reminiscent of calzones from a pizza place and also makes the bottoms a little crispy. This is purely optional though.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
To freeze, cool the pizza pockets completely. Wrap individually in tin foil or freezer bags.
When I double this recipe, I am usually able to make 20 pizza pockets. That is enough for 2 lunches plus a couple extras. However, because my day was not going as planned and I just really didn't feel like making the chicken I had planned for tonight, I decided I would stop at 12 pizza pockets and use the rest of the ingredients for dinner. I covered the bottom of a 13"x9" casserole dish with the remaining dough. Then I spread the rest of the sauce and crumbled the Italian sausage on top. I then sprinkled the whole thing with Parmesan cheese and slices of mozzarella cheese. It turned out like a deep dish pizza and was just delicious. We also had skillet corn on he side. (So this means we will be getting 3 meals out of 1 pound of sausage and 3/4 a pound of mozzarella. For a day that didn't go as planned, this really worked out well!)
Our other meals today were scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast and ham and cheese sandwiches, with bananas and yogurt for the kids.I have been asked by a few people how we store all this food in the freezer. We do not have a stand alone freezer. Our refrigerator/freezer is not even that big, only 17 cu. ft. Somehow I always seem to have enough room. I have never had to not make something that was in my original plan due to a lack of space in the freezer. I package things as smartly as possible and make sure I use every inch of space. The bottom shelf will hold 6 11"x 7" casserole dishes if they are stacked right on top of each other and 3 to a row. This still leaves an empty gap in between that I can fill with individually wrapped items, such as 1/2 lb. packages of ground beef or chicken breasts.
I also make sure I always label and date everything before I put it in the freezer. Although we will be eating everything in there (and in fact NEED to if we are to stick to our budget), I always figure it is better to be safe than sorry. I label the casserole dishes by just taping a piece of paper to the end of the dish that is facing me. I also write any reheating instructions on that paper that I will need to remember.